The flagship program of the sports network ESPN, SportsCenter has been a staple of the American sports landscape since 1979.SportsCenter, which celebrated its 50,000th episode in 2012, is a sports highlight and analysis show that can be seen at almost all hours of the day on ESPN. Someone who wakes up at 7 a.m. can flip on the TV and watch SportsCenter until they leave for work at 8:30. When they come home at 5 p.m., they can watch the primetime version of SportsCenter. When they go to bed at 11 p.m., they can watch the late-night version, and then the edition from Los Angeles updated to catch the West Coast scores at 2 a.m. And since 2008, they have been able to watch it when they are home sick on a weekday all the way to 2 p.m. And since 2010, when it took over most of the ESPNEWS schedule, all day long.What started as a simple, low-budget highlight show has, like its parent network, metastasized into a kind of pop culture leviathan that both dominates and frequently influences the sports world it covers.SportsCenter truly rocketed to national prominence in the early 1990s, when the 11 p.m. broadcast was anchored by Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann (yes, that Keith Olbermann). The two were smart, witty and cultured and they introduced a brand of cutting humor to the broadcast that made it must-see TV. Some of the scenes in Sports Night are references to this—including the "left off the letter 's' in 'bulging disk'" bit. Of course, on SportsCenter, nobody caught it before airing...Unfortunately, Olbermann, by his own admirable admission, was a bit of a prick and left the network in the late 1990s, though he and Patrick remained friends. Patrick expanded his role into other areas of the network, leaving SportsCenter in the hands of Patrick's post-Olbermann partner, Kenny Mayne, as well as the alternate duo of Rich Eisen and catchphrase machine Stuart Scott. When Eisen left in 2003 to become the on-air lead of the newly minted NFL Network, SportsCenter was left to be anchored by a collection of new talent who sought to emulate Scott's painfully hip catch phrasing (with varying degrees of success) rather than the Olbermann/Patrick/Eisen urbane snarkiness.In recent months, the show's producers have streamlined SportsCenter and eliminated some of the more objectionable aspects of the show, such as the shouting analysts and meaningless segments constructed solely to pimp sponsors. For all the complaining about the show, SportsCenter is more popular than ever. There are no serious national challengers to its dominance; CNNSI was launched in 1996 as a 24-hour sports news network, but failed and shut down in May 2002; it didn't help that ESPNEWS, which served essentially the same function, was launched shortly before CNNSI. Also, CNN's long-running nightly sportscast Sports Tonight, which had existed since CNN was founded in 1980, was removed from CNN's schedule shortly after 9/11, moving to CNNSI and was canceled for good with that network's demise. Fox Sports Net has also failed in its attempts to combat SportsCenter. When that network debuted in 1996, it had a news show called Fox Sports News, renamed National Sports Report in 1998. They managed to get Olbermann in 1999, but he left in 2001 and the show was canceled in 2002. In 2006, FSN debuted a news show called The Final Score which used a basic format of highlights-only and scores to draw viewers in, but it was cancelled in 2011. Now in 2012, the newly-minted NBC Sports Network will have a go at SC with a new morning recap show called "The 'Lights" (short for "highlights").An increasing trend for the network is to have shows that originate from Los Angeles instead of the network headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The late SportsCenter (10pm Pacific) moved there in 2011 (hosted by Stan Verette and Neil Everett), and Sports Nation moved in 2013 (with Marcellus Wiley replacing Colin Cowherd). TheOutside of sports, the show is also famous for its incredibly funny This is SportsCenter commercial series, featuring athletes and celebrities in odd situations (such as Danica Patrick's race car getting towed from Dan Patrick's parking space, David Ortiz offending his mascot by wearing a Yankee hat, or the Manning brothers getting into a fight while taking a tour of the studio).
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